Deidre Ruth Photography: Blog en-us (C) Deidre Ruth Photography [email protected] (Deidre Ruth Photography) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:02:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:02:00 GMT Deidre Ruth Photography: Blog 120 80 My Story: Jenna

My name is Jenna Smith, and here is my story of our rainbow after the storm....

A "rainbow baby" refers to a baby that is born after miscarriage(s), stillbirth, or infant loss, because in the real world a bright, colorful rainbow follows a storm and gives hope for a better, brighter future. "Rainbow baby" was a term that I honestly knew nothing about until November 2014. It was then that we experienced our first miscarriage. Looking back, while it was devastating, we remained hopeful because having one miscarriage is quite common.

The real devastation came over the next several months. I went on to have three more recurrent miscarriages (four total losses in eleven months), and losing those sweet babies was absolutely heartbreaking. Each miscarriage was a little different in regards to the timing, physical pain, and medical management, but one thing remained constant: the heartbreak. There was also great frustration, as no cause was ever determined, so it left me feeling broken without a way to "fix" the problem. As a nurse, I'm a "fixer" by nature, but I didn't know how to fix this. In between the losses and after, Andy and I both had countless tests and they all came back normal. Two of the babies had testing as well, and the results were normal/inconclusive.

A lot of people who knew my story told me that I was so strong for continuing to try to have a baby after the losses, but in reality I was terrified. I experienced so many various stages of grief, emotions, and thoughts during this time. I was tired. I felt that we were doing everything right, but kept getting the same end result. If I'm being completely honest, I had feelings of guilt as well because we had one precious child already, and that is what some people hope for: just one child. I also contemplated long and hard over whether we should adopt or foster, but I had this overwhelming and relentless desire to carry, birth, and nurse another child. I dreamed of nursing my baby and experiencing that special bond again. As silly as it may sound, I worried that the losses would affect Andy's love for me. I worried that my dream of having another baby may never come true.

The only way we were able to get through this journey is by leaning into God. I can honestly say that I've never prayed harder or more for anything in my entire life. I prayed in the closet of what is now Charlie's nursery each night after putting Emery to bed. I got down on my hands and knees and cried out to God for help. I prayed in the shower, on the way to work, and all throughout the day. We also attended 21 days of prayer (prayer service at our church) before work and prayed consistently for a healthy pregnancy and baby and requested others to do the same. We went up after church services for one on one prayer, and I filled out the prayer request card over and over. I prayed with my physician and medical team before procedures. I also cried out through worship music, which gave me hope.

After a whole lot of praying, discussing, and researching, we ultimately decided to go through in vitro fertilization, as this is what our specialist strongly recommended for us after the third loss. After the fourth failed attempt on our own, we decided to try IVF and it worked! Hallelujah! It was the hardest decision we have ever had to make, but we wanted to give it our all and have no regrets looking back.

All who know me know that I have little patience. I just thought the miscarriages tested my patience. IVF took it to a whole new level. The waiting for the phone call to hear if I was pregnant was excruciating, but I remember so vividly the day I got the call from my doctor. I was actually at work in a room with a patient, and my phone starting vibrating. I excused myself from the room, and my doctor was on the other end. He said in a very calm, but excited voice, “Well, you better answer the phone because I have good news!” My hcg level was in the clouds, and so was I. I was ecstatic. I was PREGNANT! I had concerns that the transfer had failed because I had some cramping and spotting a few days before his call. The next days and weeks ahead were difficult as I continued to have some bleeding, but each lab and ultrasound looked promising. I know the reproductive endocrinologist was probably as ecstatic as we were that this worked because I was not a great patient. I was so worried and relied on him heavily for reassurance. Several times I went in twice a week for ultrasounds. I remember at the end of the first trimester my specialist telling me I had graduated, and he was referring me to a regular OBGYN. This was good news, but I was still nervous. When I met my OB for the first time, I fell in love with her. She was so compassionate, and handled me well. I almost wonder if she had been pre-warned about a needy, neurotic patient named Jenna?!

Ironically, November was the month of my first loss, but it is also now the birth month of our beautiful, precious “rainbow baby” boy, Charles Garrison Smith! Charlie was born on November 14, 2016 at 3:59 pm weighing 8 pounds, 8 ounces and 21 and 1/2 inches. God is so good! “For this child I have prayed, and the Lord granted me the desires of my heart.” 1 Samuel 1:27. 

I don't think it is by coincidence that November is also the month of Thanksgiving. We are so extremely thankful for Emery and Charlie. Each baby born into this world truly is a miracle, and after experiencing recurrent pregnancy loss, I believe this with all my heart. While Charlie doesn't erase or take away the pain of the lost babies for us, we were granted a healthy, precious child of God, and we are so grateful.

During the journey, I tried so hard to have "faith over fear." There were days that I did and days the fear won. There were days I dreaded going the restroom because I was so terrified of seeing lots of blood. There were days when I had my ultrasounds I was literally shaking in fear waiting to see/hear the heartbeat. As terrified as I was, I always remained hopeful. I never lost hope that I would eventually have this baby. I know God worked out so many details when I look back on the whole process and believe wholeheartedly that He heard and answered our prayers. 

Infertility comes in so many different scenarios for so many women. Some are far more devastating than mine, and outcomes vary greatly for everyone. I remember reading so much negativity when going through recurrent pregnancy loss, so I write my story mainly to encourage others by sharing the positive and also to glorify our Heavenly Father. I write to encourage others who are on a journey to trust that our Father is right there every step of the way. Cry on His shoulder. Fully lean into Him. Let Him know the desires of your heart.

During the journey, I tried to remind myself of these verses, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4 6-7. 

Know that God knows what is best for each and every one of our lives. He's a good, good Father!

[email protected] (Deidre Ruth Photography) family love your story my story newborn Tue, 10 Jan 2017 17:22:24 GMT
My Story: Christine

My name is Christine Moore, and this is the story of my “midlife crisis.” 

When I was approaching the big 4-0, my biggest health concerns were treating laugh-lines and zits at the same time. My husband Ernie and I had dealt with real life “grown-up” challenges and were a year into a big job change. We could have moved to a different state and away from the roots we had worked so hard to establish for our family. We chose to trust God’s plan and that He was not calling us to another place, but wanted us to trust Him right where we were.

My dear husband was happier in his job than he had been in a long time, and I was enjoying the privilege of being a mostly stay at home mom, working part-time, and enjoying the flexibility of being with our three kids during the crazy, busy life we were living. The blessings were big; the family was good, healthy, smart and funny.  In a good place, making future plans and feeling pretty good about making 40 just a number. No need to panic or have a crisis. You need to know, I don’t believe in coincidences, and I do believe that the worst-case scenario sometimes comes true. I love corny jokes, and I believe in a good cliché.

Then, the routine health checkup showed something not normal. Not normal, but nothing to worry about; after all, this girl was the picture of health. Eating right, exercising, managing stress, all part of my daily routine. Because as a Physical Therapist, I felt a particular mandate to practice what I preach. But, I’ve already shared that I believe in the truth of the worst-case scenario. I’m actually kind of the queen of the worst-case scenario, not because I don’t trust God or think bad things are inevitable- it’s just that I cannot count the number of times I’ve said “a one in a million chance is fine until you are that one” and actually saw the one in a million happen. 

So, with that in the very back of my mind, the follow-up tests were scheduled and things chugged along as usual. The summer scooted along, eased into fall and then on October 10th, 2014 a routine colonoscopy revealed a colorectal tumor.

Cancer had introduced itself. 

The irony of the midlife crisis I thought I’d avoided was not lost on me, I assure you. Insert a beloved cliché here- I actually thought I was dreaming and not yet awake from the anesthesia. Well, I was wide awake, and the work of finding our footing after the floor fell out from under us began. One thing was immediately clear to me: my unbelief in the coincidence was about to be proven 100% correct. If we had pursued a job out of town, we would have been far away from family, friends, UAB and the exact doctors we would need. My mother’s work had created a relationship with one of the best oncologic surgeons in the country. Not coincidence, only God.  God had not called us elsewhere because we needed to be right here, and He had already laid this out. Had already honored our obedience by ensuring we would have the support system we needed just as we faced the fight of our lives. It was just the validation we needed in those early, scary, terrible days that God had me in the palm of his hand; He would not leave me nor forsake me. It was comforting, reassuring and a blessing. 

So, the midlife crisis was upon me. Make no mistake, I was sad, angry, terrified, begging to be spared, so I could mother my babies, stay with my wonderful husband, parents, family and friends. The bargaining was epic. I asked God just once, “Why me?” His answer was a question right back, “Why not you?” That was it. My crisis would be my calling. 

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains:  it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” –CS Lewis. 

That quote was one of the very first text messages I received to reinforce that He uses our deepest pain to bring us closer to Him and to be able to minister to a lost and broken world. He told me right away “your faith has made you well.” And the verse I clung to was Mark 11:24: “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” I knew I had at least the faith of a mustard seed, and I began telling my mountain to move!

The crisis turned into total faith in my Jehovah Rapha. And a newfound desire to just be salt and light, to be the megaphone in the world but in a small, still way. To just let His love for me be seen by others and offer hope and maybe, just maybe, point someone to the cross who wouldn’t have gotten there another way. I had cancer. I could only control how I spent every day, and I intended to live, to worship, to grow, to love, to share, to minister, to heal and to be whole again. He would fulfill the promises he made to me. 

As I began to delve into the word, images that related to certain scriptures and verses became strangely important to me. I wear a cross necklace almost every day, but the iconography of the cross is almost too cliché. Crosses are “decorative” and pervasive and somehow have lost the real impact. Anchors, arrows, feathers, apples, seeds, hearts, mountains and angel wings all became meaningful reminders of His word and His promises. I began seeking them out, but noticed that these secular items are suddenly quite prevalent in clothing and home décor. Coincidence? I’ll let you answer that. I began wearing a small silver anchor, and it got lots of compliments. It allowed me to share another treasured verse, Hebrews 6:19, “We have this hope as an anchor, firm and secure.” and possibly plant the seeds God wanted sewn.

I can’t explain my obsession, only that I am eager to use worldly things to do some heavenly good. I fail daily, and I don’t think I could witness especially well to someone, but if a cute t-shirt with an arrow can get me talking about my story and how much I have been blessed, then I’m all about it. 

There are too many moments of God’s faithfulness and providence during our cancer year to recount in this forum, but I must share one in particular that just tells you all you need to know about my God. 

After chemo and radiation, I had a follow up CT scan. Everything was great, except the radiologist saw some fluid around my heart that needed to be checked out. None of the doctors were particularly concerned, but when you have cancer, leave no stone unturned. Worst-case scenario and all… anyway, I had to be admitted to the hospital and have a procedure to have the fluid drawn off my heart with a huge needle! Whatever it takes. I was admitted to the hospital and my nurse was a precious lady. So kind and caring. Since my admission was added last minute, she did not have any of my history and so I began to tell her and I began to cry… and cry… and cry. Uncontrollable, messy, horrible sobbing. “Crying like a baby” crying. 

Turns out, her husband has cancer, the kind that should have killed him six months after being diagnosed, but he was alive and fighting. Then, she took my hands and asked to pray. Prayer warrior prayers, demanding that the living water that flows through me wash over every cell in my body, that I would be completely healed of the cancer and that I would grow to an old age and see my grandchildren. This nurse was my angel. She fought for me and interceded for me when I was scared and broken and at my wit’s end. That fluid around my heart turned out to be nothing. They still have no clue why it happened.

God happened. Healing happened. A worst-case scenario turned into a cliché and became a not at all coincidence. That, my friends, is what you call a miracle.  After radiation, two rounds of chemo, two surgeries, countless prayers and praises, my cancer crisis is essentially over. My doctors are very confident, the follow up tests are scheduled, and for five years we will wait and see, knowing His faithfulness.

The support and love of our village was overwhelming. The meals, the prayers, the generosity, the love and support were humbling and can never be repaid. We saw the hands and feet in action. Our little village did great things in the fight against cancer and kept us fed, prayed over and blessed during this huge trial. We cannot thank them adequately except that we know that those who give generously will be given back in good measure. Real life didn’t stop, and for that I am grateful.

I struggled, but I kept up with my kids and our life, got to take a hiatus from work and returned with a new empathy for those I love to care for. Clichés didn’t take a break; there were “when it rains it pours” moments and tender moments. I watched my kids grow and change because of time and because of cancer. And, they made me so proud to be their mom by exhibiting quiet strength and faith. There are no words for my dear Ernie Moore. I love him more than I ever thought possible. My rock, my safe place, my logistics guy. He showed me the kids are capable of making their own breakfast, and everyone needs to fold their own socks! Marriage is for better or worse. I hate we had the worse, but it made us better.

So, for my 41st year, I am cancer free and slowly getting back to normal. Except things will never be normal again. We gained through loss; we grew by becoming small. We saw God’s face and Satan’s wrath at being defeated. I have no longer any doubt of the spiritual war being waged. It is real. I have lived it. Satan wanted nothing more than to attack my family, and he prowled like a lion, I guarantee you. He tried to kill, steal and destroy our faith, family, and friendships. There are none of us immune-not to cancer and not to the confusion and strife the enemy wants to dabble in. If cancer can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. But, if healing and victory can happen to me, that can happen for anyone too.

My midlife crisis was cancer. Everyone has one; it’s a cliché, a worst-case scenario and Praise the Lord, not a coincidence! 



[email protected] (Deidre Ruth Photography) family love your story my story Fri, 26 Feb 2016 18:54:34 GMT
My Story: Hope _MG_4367_MG_4367


There was a time when I was blogging/writing about the most painful part of our story, but I haven't done it in so long that I'm not even sure where to start.  But here goes... 


One of my favorite verses is Lamentations 3:22-23, "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to and end.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."  


Everything I'm about to write is about Him.  It should all point to Him.  This is the story He chose to write for us.  Some parts are wonderful, some painful, but every part is from the Lord.  And, I'm so thankful that He has given us grace to accept each part and believe that He is good and loving toward all He has made.


I grew up in a loving, Christian home with pretty much a picture perfect childhood.  When I was old enough to understand the gospel, my "understanding" was very much slanted toward legalism.  I thought that if I was going to have a relationship with Jesus then I must DO a, b and c.  It all depended on me.  And, for me, a, b and c meant reading my bible, praying everyday and sharing my faith with others.  I had to be pretty close to perfect.  This always left me frustrated and defeated, and I thought the Christian life was just full of do's and don'ts.  


My senior year of high school, God finally brought me to a place of surrender.  I wanted to know Him.  So I went off to college, very hungry to grow as a believer.  I knew I was a sinner and needed a Savior, and I began to pray that the Lord would show me what that should "look like" in my everyday life.  In college, I met so many other believers that were eager to grow in their faith too, and it was such an encouraging four years, as God began to expand my view of him and show me my purpose in life… to know Him and make Him known.


I met my husband in college, and the first few years of marriage God began to set us free from so much legalism that we had both grown up believing.  He introduced us to grace… that it didn't start with us.  Everything starts with God.  We didn't have to DO anything for our salvation except trust in the finished work of Jesus on the cross!  We began to grow in the FREEDOM of the gospel, and it was nothing we could ever earn or measure up to.  Because you know what?  Perfect people don't need Jesus.  They are their own Savior.  So this set us on a path of wanting to obey what God had called us to do… but not out of duty.  It was finally flowing out of gratitude for what He did for us on the cross, and this made all the difference!  God used those years of college and first few years of marriage to lay a strong foundation for us.  And, we would need it more than ever in the years to come.


By 2007, God had blessed us with four children.  There is nothing like parenthood to show you your need for Jesus!  Those years were full of more mercy, grace and forgiveness for all of us.  We were living in Illinois, but a job change was bringing us back to Alabama.  The kids and I were staying with my parents, and Billy was on his way back to Illinois to take care of moving details.  This was July 2008, and our summer had been full of swimming, vacation, catching up with old friends, etc.  Our children were 6, 4, 2 and 7 months.  


On July 1, our four-year-old daughter, Alaina, came and woke me up around 5:00 am, saying she had thrown up in her bed.  She had slept all night and had an empty stomach so there wasn't much, and I didn't think much more about it.  She continued to throw up throughout the morning and finally slept most of the afternoon.  She got up and walked around some and talked off and on, so I never thought she had anything other than a stomach virus.  She slept with me that night and moved and talked in her sleep some.  


In the middle of the night, I woke up and couldn't go back to sleep, so I went to the couch.  I woke up the next morning and walked back to the bedroom to check on her, and she had fallen off the bed.  I immediately had this panicked feeling and went over to get her up.  The moment I touched her, I knew something wasn't right.  I turned her over and saw her face first and knew she wasn't breathing.  We called 911 and did CPR until the paramedics arrived, but I knew that unless God performed a miracle, she was gone.


I went outside and waited.  My dad walked outside and looked at me, and I knew.  We all fell apart.  We were in complete shock and disbelief.  I had to tell my husband over the phone that his daughter was gone, and he was 12 hours away.  But, even in that moment, I knew God loved me and was with me and would get us through the nightmare.  All those years leading up to that moment, God had given us that foundation.  Remember that verse?  His love for me would never cease.  His mercy for me would never come to an end.  His faithfulness to me would be great.  Those were promises I could trust in the days, weeks and months to come. 


Another verse that meant so much to me during that first year of grieving was from Isaiah… "I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them.  I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth; these ARE the things I will do.  I will not forsake them."  That was the personal and all-loving God I had come to know.  I tried to be as honest as I could with Him.  I asked why.  I didn't understand.  I told him I was at rock bottom.  All of a sudden I had so much fear.  He took all of that and loved me through it.  


He carried us during those completely dark days.  When I think back on the first few days, I can still just hear the weeping.  My eyes burn when I think back and remember how hard those days were.  My close friends went with us the the funeral home and I fell apart when we walked up to the door.  With everything in me I didn't want to go in.  I remember when the man opened a door and showed us a small white casket.  Rock bottom.  I felt like I was watching a movie.  "I will lead the blind by ways they have not known”... He did.  God gave us grace and strength to pick out a casket, plan a funeral and celebrate Alaina's precious life.  We worshiped that day.  We prayed and sang, "You give and take away, you give and take away, my heart will choose to say, Lord, blessed be your name."  


Her death is still somewhat of a medical mystery.  We learned from the autopsy that she had viral meningitis, but this form of meningitis is usually not fatal.  We will never have all the answers this side of heaven, but we've accepted that.


I would change that part of our story in a heartbeat if I could.  But, what I'm completely humbled and thankful for are the things God taught us through it and how he changed me.  He softened me.  He made my heart much more compassionate.  He opened my eyes to the needs of the world and to see hurting people.  He made me a better mother.  He deepened my longing for heaven and helped me recognize what's eternal and what to let go of because it doesn't matter.  He showed me his love and that He would fulfill his promises from his Word.  This was huge: He showed me that my greatest need was not to have my daughter back.  My greatest need was to KNOW  Him… and He had provided a way for me to know Him though Jesus, and that could never be taken from me.  I cannot believe that was six years ago.  We will never be the same, and that's a good thing.  


About three years ago, we started the process of adopting a child form Ethiopia.  God had used those years after Alaina's death to show us more of His heart.  All the verses in the bible about showing mercy, loving the orphan, the needy, just jumped off the page to me.  I realized that every believer is called to live a life of mercy.  So a piece of that calling for our family would be to adopt.  We felt so clearly led by the Lord to go to Africa.  


On February 15, 2014, we brought home a little boy named Gideon.  What a gift he has been to our family!  Adoption isn't easy.  We have had hard and challenging days since coming home, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.  God ALWAYS uses the hard to show us our need for Him.  I read recently that hard isn't the absence of His goodness.  Yes!  It is IN the hard that we see His goodness the most!  


I don't know what the rest of our story will be.  Katie Davis said in her book (Kisses from Katie), "When I look at my life and the miracles I see and what I know, I can trust him for what I don't know… because of what I've seen, I can trust him when I can't see."  Yes,  I can trust God for whatever He has for us because "His mercies NEVER come to an end!"  


"Because He lives, I can face tomorrow, because He lives, all fear is gone; because I know He holds the future, and life is worth the living just because He lives."  


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[email protected] (Deidre Ruth Photography) family love your story my story Tue, 19 Aug 2014 16:10:29 GMT
My Story: Joy When my husband and I started our married life together 15 years ago, we envisioned the American dream for our future, and that included three kids at just the precise time we thought we might like them…sometime in our 20’s sounded good to us. After six years of marriage, we felt like it was time to expand our family.  But, we were naïve and had no idea that we would be like a growing number of the population who would struggle with infertility.  As Christians serving faithfully in ministries and our church, we assumed God would magically grant us our wish for children because after all, we were doing exactly what He wanted us to do in service to Him.  We didn’t know that His plans included years of waiting, trying, and praying through tears.  


The Christian friends we surrounded ourselves with at church began to have their own children, and we celebrated their births and their birthdays and then the births of their siblings, as we continued to hope for a family of our own.  Month after month, year after year, doctor’s appointments, and a miscarriage came and went in the process. A couple of years after we started trying to build our family, I had a dream that an angel came to me and told me that we would have a baby, but it would not be for a very long time. Another time, I had a vision of a beautiful dark-haired, blue-eyed baby. I wrote down my dreams and visions to see if one day they might come to pass. And, we continued to wait. 


Finally, through much prayer and confirmation, we decided God was leading us to domestic infant adoption. We had a wonderful support system built by this time with many young families rooting us on toward our dream of becoming parents.  As we began the journey through adoption, we prayed over every detail of the process and asked God for specific things.  We had to create an adoptive parent profile of ourselves, basically a brochure highlighting us as a couple and all the reasons we would make great parents for a child.  We chose a picture for the front of that profile.  One Sunday in our small group at church, we passed that brochure around our class and asked our friends to pray over that picture, that the birth mom carrying our child would see the picture and know we were the ones.  


After a month of waiting and not being chosen, I discussed changing the picture on the front of the profile and a friend reminded me that we had prayed over the original picture and to wait.  Within a week we were chosen to parent a little boy to be born a few months later!  Months after our child’s birth, the birth mom (who might just be reading this!) told me that she had a stack of 40+ profiles to go through, but she kept coming back to ours because of the picture on the front! Don’t tell me God is not in the details! 


I mentioned a little boy was expected, but part of the wonder of our story is that during those months we were matched with the birthmother, we decorated his room, nailed “Levi” to the walls, and lovingly washed and packed little monogrammed clothes with his initials and name on them.  When the day came for his birth, my husband and I boarded a plane to Texas, and “his” birthmother called and told me the baby had been born, but there had been one change.  It was a GIRL!!!  We giggled with shock and excitement as we traveled to meet our new daughter! We chose to name our little blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl “Eliana,” which means “God has answered us.”  When we returned home, we had a plethora of girl things awaiting us from our supportive group of friends and family who rejoiced with us at our answered prayers and God’s wonderful sense of humor! God provided every dime we needed and met every need we had to the detail of our prayers. He is faithful. He has proven that over and over again! 


Today, we have a beautiful open adoption with our daughter’s birthparents, and although we haven’t seen them in several years, we still keep in touch.  Not long after we brought our new daughter home, I remembered that dream where the angel told me we would have a baby. I looked at the date of the dream, and it matched up perfectly two years to the day we brought our daughter home from Texas.


Two years after Eliana’s birth, we were contacted about adding to our family through adoption again.  After a few weeks of prayer and discussion, the birthmother decided to raise her child.  That very same week, I found out I was expecting.  Exactly five years earlier, I had learned I was pregnant and due the first week of October.  This baby was now due the first week of October as well.  After the loss of our first child, I grieved heavily.  I was so thrilled to become a mom, no matter how I became one.  I was praying that to be able to conceive and carry a pregnancy to term would feel like redemption for a loss I had really wondered why we had to endure.  One day, early in this new pregnancy, a friend of mine told me that she had a dream about me, and the Lord had told her to use the words redeemed and redemption.  I knew this was confirmation the Lord was going to come through for this child.  Indeed, He did redeem that first pregnancy loss.


When our red-headed, green-eyed son came into the world that first week in October of 2011, his birth was unnecessarily traumatic.  We were thrilled to add a son to our family and to be blessed with a full-term baby, but the experience of bringing him into the world was terrifying and caused unnecessary anxiety and emotional upheaval.  I didn’t know if we would ever be blessed with another child, and I was so unbelievably thankful for the two we had, but I hoped again for another opportunity to see the Lord redeem more pain I had endured.  God is a God of redemption.  I know that.  I see that and experience it.  It is why He sent His Son, Jesus. 


So, we waited and enjoyed our two blessings and rested in the fact that if God wanted to continue to grow our family, He would.  We were thrilled to learn that we were expecting again on Christmas morning of 2012 and were able to see our little one several weeks later on ultrasound.  I had an appointment for a follow-up ultrasound for my eight-week checkup, and the night before I went for the ultrasound, I had a dream.  In my dream, I saw the ultrasound screen, and an angel held my baby, whose heart was no longer beating. I awakened the next morning with dread and sadness, thinking perhaps my dream had been prophetic and the Lord’s way of gently preparing me for what was to come.  As I drove into the parking deck to make my appointment, a song by Natalie Grant began playing on the radio.  The song was “Held.”  The first line of the song goes, “Two months is too little. They let him go. They had no sudden healing.” The rest of the song talks about how the Lord holds us through the loss of loved ones.  I pictured that angel holding my baby, and I knew then the Lord was confirming my dream.  Sure enough, the baby had no more heartbeat, and we grieved the loss of another child. 


Though the desire to add more children remained, we were confident whatever God wanted for us was best.  In May of 2013, while having some time of prayer and study, I sensed the Holy Spirit speaking to me that He would give us more children.  I waited for confirmation that I had heard correctly and through scripture, the Lord repeatedly confirmed His promise.  I happily shared His promise to me with my husband and we waited to see what the Lord would do and how He would choose to do it. 


The same week of October of our son’s birthday and the same week I had been due with the first baby seven years earlier, we found out that we were expecting again. Of course, I was nervous that perhaps we might lose this baby too, but when I was nine weeks pregnant, we began telling people we were expecting. I had dinner with a group of ladies I had not seen in a while.  We weren’t friends who saw each other often, but it is always fun to have a girls’ night out over tacos and cheese dip.  I announced our pregnancy, and one of the girls had big tears well up in her eyes, as she began to tell me how, for months, she had been led to pray for me, that we would have a baby. She didn’t know why she was supposed to pray this for me, and frankly did not know much of our history, but the Holy Spirit had led her to pray, so she had been obedient.  She saw the fruit from her prayers, and I saw a promise from the Lord that this little one was a keeper!  I decided not to doubt but to believe He would come through for us and that this birth would be redemption for the traumatic birth I’d had with our son.  


As the pregnancy progressed and the due date for another daughter approached, I began to be afraid.  I wanted a beautiful birth experience, and I was afraid that all of the events that had played out before were going to come to pass again.  About six weeks before her birth, I was worried and anxious reading and preparing for a natural birth.  I opened Facebook and saw where someone had posted simply one passage of scripture and no explanation.  I read the passage and re-read it and felt strongly it was just for me in that moment.  Isaiah 54:10, 11, 13, 14 says, “For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”O afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted… All your children shall be taught by the Lord and great shall be the peace of your children. In righteousness you shall be established; you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near you.”’ From that moment I was no longer afraid of my birth experience. I had complete peace that God was going to come through with His promise.  


The night before our daughter’s birth, I put my children to bed and read them the next story in our children’s Bible. It was the story of Noah and the ark and the rainbow of God’s promise.  The next evening, as I was in labor, my husband pulled out of our driveway to take me to the hospital.  Before driving away, he took a picture of a double rainbow that was high in the sky above our house… a reminder to me that God would be with me through this birth and that God always keeps His promises!  And, do you know what? He was! I had a beautiful, redemptive, natural childbirth experience with our little Sadie, which means princess and mercy. A week after our princess was born, I sat rocking her and looking at her sweet round cheeks, blue eyes, and head full of dark hair. The vision of the baby I had had all those years before came to mind, and I realized that our sweet Sadie matches that vision!


Fifteen years ago when my husband and I married, I could never have guessed the path God would take us to build our family.  So many years I wondered if there would only be just the two of us.  I’m so thankful we didn’t give up praying and that we waited and followed His leading.  Only God knows if Sadie is our caboose, and we will wait to see what or who the future holds.  We believe each of our children is a gift (James 1:17), and we look forward to seeing how God will use them for His glory.  I think He already has.


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[email protected] (Deidre Ruth Photography) adoption family love your story my story newborn Thu, 07 Aug 2014 15:37:44 GMT
My Story: Talmadge _MG_4987_MG_4987

God has a way of making something absolutely beautiful out of the complete messes we make in our lives.  Each day is full of decisions that have to be made that have an affect on the next decision.  One poor decision leads to another, and pretty soon, you’ve dug yourself a hole where there is no way you can climb out on your own.  Sound pretty familiar?  We’ve all reached the point where we are at the end of our rope and don’t know which way to go.  The plans and decisions we make for our life crumble right before our eyes, and we can’t find any peace in understanding.  Soon enough, you realize this life you’re trying to build on your own was built on nothing more than sinking sand.  As the winds fell, and the floods came, and the wind blew, you see it falling apart right before your eyes.  And, so was the case for my life.


I always had a great plan for my life and never considered God or His plans.  Because of this, poor decision after poor decision, I married a girl out of college.  We live in a society where everyone wants the American dream: a college education, a wife, a house, 2.4 kids, and a great job.  And, in my case, this is what I was doing, living the dream.  But, the dream soon ended, and we were divorced less than two years later, much to my accord.  As a man, the last thing you ever want to do is fail at something, and I had a failed marriage.  This was the lowest point in my life.  And, what is sad is at this point in my life, I failed to see the sanctity of marriage with God.  I regrettably admit, at the time, I merely saw this as a failed relationship.


After my divorce, I started dating again and hit it off with another woman.  We had a good relationship as long as we didn’t talk about anything difficult.  We would attend church on Sundays and live like hell the rest of the week.  And, after a couple of years, we got engaged.  It looked like I had found the person I was going to spend my life with.  Little did I know, the engagement would be ultimate test of this relationship.  


In the midst of this, God started working in my life, and I ended up making the most important decision of my life, to follow Christ.  What I didn’t realize was in doing this, He would ask me to sacrifice my engagement, which ended 20 days before the wedding.  Once again, another failed relationship and the plans I had laid out were crumbling right before my eyes.  Where the divorce was the lowest point in my life,  this was no doubt the toughest period of my life.  In the trial and tribulation of this time, I was left with two choices: continue to do what I’d always done and expect different results or lean not on my own understanding and trust Christ in all my ways.  For the first time in my life, I chose Christ.  All He asked was to trust Him!


A few months later, I decided to attend a Uganda missions meeting one evening at church.  I never thought about a going on a mission trip, but as it turns out God had other plans.  From the moment of leaving that meeting, Uganda was stirring in my heart, and for every excuse why I couldn’t go, God showed me why I could.  After exhausting every excuse over the following weeks, it purely came down to an act of obedience in following God, and I decided to go on that trip.  What I didn’t realize at the time was this was all part of a greater plan He had set in place.  My life would never be the same.


Upon returning from Uganda, I realized even though this was my first trip, it definitely wouldn’t be the last. God had broken my heart, humbled my spirit, and showed me His greatness.  This trip lit a fire and a passion in me for God and to serve others like I’ve never experienced before.  I also realized that I would have never experienced the blessings from this trip if I had decided not to once again follow God in obedience.  But the trip was only part of His plan.  The best was yet to come….


When we got back from Uganda,  I knew there was another local church going to the same place in Uganda where we had been.  One of those going was Kim Tucker.  Kim and I went to the same high school and literally grew up six miles from each other.  Yet, even in the small community of Corner, we had heard of one another, but never knew each other. That is until our paths crossed one day on Facebook talking about my experience and her upcoming trip to Uganda.  This common thread developed a friendship, and we grew close quickly.  After she returned from Uganda, we stayed in touch and talked about her trip, but didn’t think about dating. But, God had other plans.  And, a couple of months later, we went on our first date.


Ten months later, I’m happy to report that it has been nothing less than incredible.  Kim and I often say the only way we will ever make this relationship work is if we place each other second and keep God as the first love in our lives.  We have lived each day thanking God for the time we have had, praying he will bless us with more, and trusting wherever He leads us, even if that is in opposite directions.  As we have continued to place Christ at the forefront of our relationship, the closer we have grown together. 


Kim also has three awesome little girls, Milly, Kameryn, and Heidi.  As Kim and I have grown together, these three little girls have been right there and have been nothing but a blessing to my life.  By being faithful and obedient to God, He has provided a relationship built on the rock of Jesus Christ. And to show off, He added these three little girls to bless it even more!! 


So now, we have come to this day.  After months of prayer and growing together, the Lord has confirmed to each of us His plan for us to spend our lives together.  And today, I have formally asked Kim to be my wife.  Not only have I asked Kim, but I have also asked her girls, so they know I’m making this commitment to them as well.




To the world, marrying a woman with three kids makes absolutely no sense.  But to God, this is a great example of the gospel in its purest form, and I am honored to have the awesome responsibility of leading all four of these women as we begin a family together.  


As I said above, it’s amazing how God can make something beautiful out of a complete mess.  My life is a perfect example of this.  Through faith and obedience in Him in all of my ways, He has made His way available to me in my life.  I often wonder what would have happened if I didn’t obey Him in going to Uganda last year….  I may have never fully seen God’s greatness through His people, may have never reached where I am in my relationship with Him, and I may have never met Kim.  


Ephesians 2 says, “You were once dead in the trespass and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world…. BUT GOD being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespass, made us alive together with Christ….”  


Thinking of my own life, I had made great plans for my life, but God’s were better.  And, when I decided to stop trying to do life myself and follow Him, He began opening the paths of His ways for me, and my world has never been the same.  It is something truly beautiful!  


Proverbs 16:9 says, “The heart of a man plans his way but the Lord established his steps.”  In no way do I deserve this life, but God has always remained faithful, which continues to blow my mind daily.  Looking forward to what He has in store for us lying ahead!!



[email protected] (Deidre Ruth Photography) family love your story my story Mon, 12 May 2014 01:29:45 GMT
My Story: Jada I always thought I got it. Never a doubt. It’s unfortunate that it sometimes takes experiencing true affliction to actually get it. Maybe that’s part of God’s plan though. Until you open yourself up, you only experience Him at a surface level.


A couple of months ago, Carlos Vargas, the founder of Hope of Life International (, spoke at our church. This is their mission statement:


To transform the country of Guatemala and beyond, presenting a practical gospel by giving hope and reassurance that the people are important and loved by many. First and foremost we satisfy their physical needs with nutritional food, education, medical treatment for the children, elderly, babies and families. We may then watch as the doors of their hearts are opened to the truth of the Gospel and love of Jesus Christ.

After a brief video during worship, I remember leaning over to my husband and whispering, “If I ever go anywhere, that’s where I will go.” 


Later that night, my husband was trying to figure out if he was supposed to go to Guatemala for the first time or return to Haiti. Out of the blue, he asked, “Unless you want to go?” That stopped me in my tracks, and I felt a huge weight on my shoulders and in my heart. So, I prayed. A peace came over me, and I made the decision to go to Guatemala in less than two days. It was an easy decision, but I never saw it coming.


“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9


I’ve always understood that as Christians, it’s our responsibility to be the hands and feet of Jesus, especially as Americans. We have the resources. The Lord has blessed us, so that we can be a blessing to others. But, I was one of those people who was waiting on the right opportunity. 


I’d always thought that I wasn’t ready, that I couldn’t leave for a week, that our kids are too young, that money was an issue, that I would be uncomfortable. I don’t even like to stay in hotels! I didn’t have a passport. The language scared me. Oddly enough, I have a degree in Spanish, but it’s gone unused for a long time. There’s a lot of pressure to communicate when you speak another language. The words are locked away in your brain somewhere, all dusty. 


I saw God when He provided every dime to cover the expense. I saw Him when my knee, after having surgery last summer, didn’t bother me at all while I was there. I saw Him after I opened my mouth to complete strangers and Spanish would come pouring out and then again when I saw the relief on some of the Guatemalan faces in the village when they realized I understood, not all, but a lot of what they said. Some of the children seemed a little less intimidated. God opened door after door. It was absolutely the right decision.


And, simply stated, it was just time. My girls needed to see that it isn’t only their dad’s responsibility to serve, that it’s mine, and that it is their responsibility too. 


I spent six days in Guatemala last month. We accomplished an unbelievable amount of God’s work in just a few days, but it wasn’t enough. It never is. I’ve read somewhere that approximately 70% of Guatemalan children suffer from malnourishment and approximately 75% of the population there lives in poverty. And, it’s not the kind of poverty where you complete a form and receive government assistance. It changes the way you see poverty. It changes you.


On our third day, we went to a landfill. Hope of Life feeds the people that live in the dump three times a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Unless they manage to find something to eat in the garbage trucks as they unload, they don’t eat. And, yes, they live there. Their homes are made of whatever scraps they can find (tin, plastic, tarps, etc.). The people are filthy. They’re hungry. I’m sure they’re broken. It was amazing to see that in spite of their circumstances, some were still smiling.



As we approached the cinderblock and chain link fence structure that afternoon, we saw that the people had already formed a line inside, containers in hand. We were given brief instructions and unloaded. We knew that we had to manage the portions because they would keep coming back to the line until there was nothing left. It’s possible that my memory is cloudy, but I’m pretty sure it was mostly women and children. 



I noticed one boy kept reappearing in the line with a different empty bowl each time. He might have been seven or eight. My eyes followed him to a plastic bag against a wall. It was full of bowls of food and containers of milk. He was there to get food for more than just himself or he was rationing it to last until Friday when someone else would be back to feed him again. 


God showed Himself again. He showed me that we’re all the same. We all receive His love and grace equally. For whatever reason, I was born here and not in a poverty-stricken country. Like all the people we encountered, I realized how hungry I am. Not for food, but for God’s presence and guidance and grace and so many other things. I had to travel all the way to Guatemala to genuinely see it. It was an awakening.


I had to leave the luxuries of this country to really understand His love, His grace, and what it means to serve. This was my first international mission trip, but it won’t be my last. We experienced God’s presence often while we were there. We arrived home late on Saturday night, but I’m confident that most of our group of 32 made it to church the next morning. I think everyone will agree that we felt His presence during church on Sunday, like no other day. Ever. It was the greatest manifestation of encouragement.


It’s all right to admit that you don’t feel led or called to do something specific… one country versus another, one ministry versus another. But, if you aren’t doing anything at all, please reflect. Do something. We’re all called to serve. Nowhere in the Bible does it say to only serve where you’re comfortable or when it’s convenient. Step out of your comfort zone. Be selfless for His glory. Serve others. You’ll be glad you did. 


Standing in the schoolyard of a small Guatemalan village in 100 degree heat, a 10-year-old girl asked me if we were missionaries. It completely caught me off-guard. I’ve never been called a missionary. She unknowingly helped me recognize that all Christians are missionaries. We just have to make the conscious decision to live it. 


Now I get it.


“For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45


“In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:16



[email protected] (Deidre Ruth Photography) love your story my story Mon, 28 Apr 2014 22:27:14 GMT
My Story: Kandy  


“Christianity isn't gaining a reputation but losing it, not lauded as wise but laughed at as foolish, not celebrity but service.” — Ann Voskamp


When God pulled us out of our self-righteous denial of our true condition, we initially rebelled. When he began leading us into full-time ministry, we weren’t ready. When he showed us the need for church planters in Papua New Guinea, we said, “No way, not us!” 


But, now we find ourselves on the precipice of a great chasm— everything we’ve always known on this side and nothing we understand or can even see on the other. 


If you’re new to our story, let me take a minute to fill you in. 


Jeremy was raised in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He was in church from the time he was born and was baptized in Lake Tuscaloosa around age ten. 


Kandy was raised in the Birmingham area and was also in church from a very young age. She was baptized at age eight. 


However, if you know anything about spirituality in the south, you realize that this is just the normal way of doing things. You hear the gospel soon after you take your first breath, go to church the Sunday after you’re born, and are usually baptized by age ten or so. As good, self-respecting southerners, we both followed those rules. 


Once we were old enough to think our own thoughts, we realized that this southern fried religion wasn’t really affecting our lives in any way except to make us feel incredible guilt pretty much all the time. So, we quit it. And, we didn’t look back for a long time. 


Jeremy partied his way through school, worked very hard, then eventually maintained a very successful career as a Network Engineer. 


Kandy partied her way through high school, became a mother at age seventeen, then worked her way through radiology school. 


When we met, we were both a mess, but living life the way we wanted, without God in the equation. When we got married, we were still a mess, but eventually began trying to add God to our lives whenever we felt like we needed a helping hand. 


When Jeremy’s career really took off and he became known as the network engineer to call if you needed help anywhere across the southeast, we reveled in his success and everything that came with it: money, toys, expensive trips, nice cars, private school for our kids, etc. 


When our marriage started to fall apart, God finally had us where he wanted us and began to use the messes we had made to bring us to a point of absolute humility and dependence on him. That was when we began to understand true religion. Not the southern fried kind we had adopted as children, but the true, desperate-for-God, nothing-else-will-satisfy type of religion. And, we haven’t been the same since. 


Through many circumstances over the past few years, we are now on the verge of moving our family to the other side of the world to plant churches in areas which have no access to the gospel. We do this not because we are good people or have reached some superior level of holiness, but because of scriptures like 1 Peter 2:9-10:


But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.


We are those people called out of darkness. We have received mercy. We are God’s people, his possession. And, now we live to glorify him and bring others into that marvelous light with us. 


You come, too?



Grant that I may always weep to the praise of mercy found,

and tell to others as long as I live,

that thou art a sin-pardoning God,

taking up the blasphemer and the ungodly,

and washing them from their deepest stain.

 from The Valley of Vision

A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions


[email protected] (Deidre Ruth Photography) family love your story my story Mon, 25 Nov 2013 16:00:31 GMT
My Story: Loriahn

“There are only two options regarding commitment, you’re either in or you’re out. There is no such thing as life in between.” –Anonymous


Before reading my story, let’s just go ahead and get some of the gory details out of the way so there are no surprises. I had an affair on my husband. And I have never talked about this publicly...Ever. Very, VERY few people know what has gone on behind our smiley faces and “We’re doing great!” responses. I used to think “HOW can someone do that to someone they supposedly love?” I used to be the first one to judge. I wrote people off because of their unforgivable sins. It’s humbling how fast you can become the person who finds themselves buried in those unforgivable sins. My story is one of incredible redemption and grace and freedom. I am living proof that things can go from completely giving up on yourself and your spouse and your marriage, to not even being able to imagine doing life with anyone else in this world. Not even Ryan Reynolds. I know…that’s pretty unbelievable. So, here’s how the story unfolds:


I met my one-in-a-million husband when I was 18 years old. We were great friends for a year before ever going on our first date. During our friendship, I used to tell people that I couldn’t wait to meet the girl that Brent would marry, because she was going to have to be awesome to catch his eye…that’s how much I thought of him. Well, wouldn’t ya know that I was the girl he fell for? We dated for one month before I was sure this incredible man would one day be my husband. He was everything and more of what I had always prayed for. God truly went above and beyond giving him to me.


We married each other two years later. We made promises to each other in front of God and family. We saved ourselves for each other. We did everything right. People say your first year is the toughest. That is hogwash. We were in utter bliss. We were disgustingly in love. We were so in love that it was time to have a baby!


So, we got pregnant. And 7 weeks later, I lost it. I was devastated. “Try again…your uterus was made for having babies” my Dr. said. So, we got pregnant again. And 8 weeks later, we lost this little baby. My heart broke, and I got angry. I was so hurt and so disappointed with God. I saw people everywhere who didn’t wait to be married, or who had 4 different dads for their kids, or who didn’t even WANT a baby…and there they were, getting pregnant and walking through Wal-Mart with their buggies full of diapers and all things baby.  And the question, “When are you two planning on having babies? Anytime soon??”…everybody asked, ALL THE TIME, and every time they did, it was just a turn of the knife in my heart. Why was God letting me get pregnant and then allowing them to be taken from me? Brent and I had done everything the way we were supposed to, and yet, there we were. Not pregnant. After the second miscarriage, something inside of me shut off. I shut off from God, and I shut off from my husband. We left our little love bubble, and our relationship went south quickly. He would ask, “Do you want to try again this month?” and I would respond with “I don’t care.” But, honestly, I was scared. I did not want to go through that heartbreak again. We got pregnant again, for the third time in 6 months, and I ignored it. I ignored it until it wasn’t ignorable any longer…but this time, the baby boy in my belly grew and grew and was born 5 days later than he was expected. He was absolute perfection. I had never experienced the depth of love I felt holding that sweet bundle for the first time. I just stared at him constantly. As for God, my heart was still broken and unresponsive towards Him because of what He had allowed us to go through.


During my pregnancy, I had decided that I’d do things my way, since God was clearly in the business of leaving me and my deepest desires in the dust. So, when I saw a guy I used to date out one night, I began a very flirtatious relationship with him. Not out of spite towards my husband. But, because I thought…I have done everything I feel like God would want me to do for my whole life, and I’m done with that. I want to do what I want to do. Things got out of hand quickly with this man, and I became someone I never, ever thought I’d be. I became the person I used to judge so harshly. I became someone I hated.


I told my husband, unwillingly, about the mess I’d gotten myself in. He was furious. So hurt, so heartbroken. And so forgiving. He has always been the “I’m-gonna-look-at-the-other-persons-point-of-view-before-making-any-judgments” type of guy. He is quick to listen, slow to speak. He is full of grace. He is my opposite. He knew that I was depressed and had made some stupid choices. But he chose to still love me…even more than I loved myself. I, on the other hand, was totally and completely NOT over this other guy. We had fallen for each other. And, I was not about to let God back in. I was not ready to trust Him again. I let myself believe that this other man was who I was in love with. That he was who I was supposed to have married all those years ago. We were in love. He was my addiction, and I was his.


I lived this lie for almost a year. I was miserable and manipulated and selfish and in one of the darkest places of my life. The day finally came when my husband found out, again, and my mountain of lies came crumbling down around me. I was buried and the only way out was the truth. He would ask, and I would tell. And with each answer, I watched as his heart broke more and more. I had broken that man I made all those promises to. But, with every truth that came out, I felt more and more free. It was horrible and wonderful at the same time. I knew that my marriage could very well be over, but I felt God saying “I love you. You are mine. I am redeeming you…” It was fresh air. It was me drowning and Him rescuing me. It was the first time in a long time that I actually listened to His voice. I needed Him at that moment. It took me a long, long time to actually believe Him, but it was a constant in my spirit…”I love you. You are mine. I am redeeming you…”


Less than three months later, my only brother was suddenly killed in an accident at work on a hot, August day. You want to talk about a rough year for us? But, my husband stood by me and loved me and held me. And when I dealt with the indescribable feelings of guilt and shame, he would tell me he loved me and that we would make it. He was my rock. He never gave up on us, even when his heart was shattered. How is it that he loved me so? To this day, I don’t understand it. But, it became more and more evident that God did have my crazy, out of control life under control. And it became blindingly clear that my husband meant everything he had said to me on our wedding day. He had promised to love me for worse, in sickness, for poorer, through depression, through the loss of our unborn babies, and even when I chose to love someone else. He had said that he would always point me to Jesus, and that he would love me despite all of my faults, that he would never give up on us. I became transparent to him. He began to listen and know me again, and I began to let him. I did not grasp the depth of those promises we made on our wedding day, but he did. There was no longer any comparison between the boy and the man.


I read a blog recently where the writer said “One man died for everyone. That puts everyone in the same boat.” My story seems so taboo. No one talks about struggling with adultery, or having feelings for someone other than your spouse. But it is rampant. I have dealt with extreme shame, guilt, unworthiness, and much, much more. But, God reminds me that he makes ALL things new. My marriage is far from the marriage it was three and four years ago. His mercies are new every morning, and His grace covers my sins just as His grace covers yours. I started to listen to the sweet promises God had been whispering to me through everything. I forgave myself and let my husband forgive me. It was not easy. I felt like I was supposed to hold onto the guilt and the shame for a certain amount of time. But, that is not at all how God’s grace works. My prayer and hope for sharing our story is that we can be an example of hope in that place of doubt. That when you feel as though your marriage is too far gone to start rebuilding, you would just start with one step, one brick on that new foundation. It will NOT happen overnight. It’s a fight. And it really sucks sometimes. It’s a lot of baby steps. But, one day, you look back and those baby steps have grown into miles of growth in your relationship. It is a beautifully hard process. But, one that is so worth it.


Let’s fast forward two years, one week, and five days later. We welcomed our second son into our family. Our sweet, smiley, laid back Reeves will always be our testimony of beauty coming from ashes. I am not saying it has been roses and butterflies over the past two and a half years, but we have fought for our marriage. We have made every effort to become each other’s best friend again. We date each other and listen to each other. And we really are stronger for it.



[email protected] (Deidre Ruth Photography) family love your story my story Fri, 18 Oct 2013 16:51:59 GMT
My Story: Kimberly descher0005

Anyone who knows me well can tell you that I’m not a patient person.  So four years ago, when my husband and I decided to start trying to have a baby I got down on my knees every day for months and prayed that God would bless us with a baby this month -  if it was His will and in His timing.  I have to admit I wasn’t wholeheartedly praying the “His timing” part.  Miraculously, it only took a few months.  I selfishly thought God knew I couldn’t wait too long and had answered my prayer.  Little did I know, He knew I would need all the patience I could find in a few short months.  

Fast forward 32 weeks.  I go to work one morning as usual and soon realize something isn’t right.  An hour or so passes by and I quickly realize I can’t ignore it.  I drive home, change clothes and head to the doctor’s office.  Throughout the morning I stop a few times to Google what might be happening to me and the baby (a very bad idea for anyone having a medical issue!) and then finally convince myself to stop reading and start praying.  Right on cue, “This is What it Feels Like to Be Led” comes on the radio.   

This may not be the road I would choose for me

But it still feels right somehow

‘Cause I have never felt You as close to me

As I do right now

So this is what it feels like to be led


I remember thinking, “Ok God, I hear you, you’ve got this.”  So I prayed and I prayed and I prayed…all the way to the hospital.  I put on my brave face, walked myself into the doctor’s office and waited.  My doctor confirmed my water had broken (although at that point it was pretty obvious) and let me know I had earned myself a ticket to the hospital.  I took the elevator down with the nurse and checked myself into the hospital that would become my new home for the next 19 days.  

During the weeks leading up to this event, I had been studying a book on contentment with a group of girls from church.  Talk about God’s perfect timing.  My sweet girlfriends even came to the hospital for the last week of the study to visit.  I had posted Philippians 4:11-13 on the dashboard of my car at the beginning of this study and can’t tell you how many times I recited this verse over the next 11 days.  

11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.


Whatever the circumstances, all things, any and every situation.  Even sit in a hospital bed and not leave the same room with the same four walls for 11 whole days.  You see, I’m not a person who likes to sit still for very long.  There was a nursery to be painted, a crib to assemble, work to transition my job responsibilities, a house to be cleaned, a husband to care for – and I couldn’t do any of it – which would normally have driven me absolutely crazy.  Only by God’s amazing grace did I survive those days with a total sense of peace.  

After 11 days, one steroid shot, one nervous breakdown and one lung maturity test for our baby - we were finally ready.  Back to my impatience, I couldn’t wait until the decided induction date, I went into labor all by myself on January 24th, 2010 and delivered a perfect baby boy.  I remember the second he came praying for him to cry so I knew his lungs were ok – and boy did he come out screaming!  Harrison was immediately taken to the NICU to receive antibiotics through an IV.  He stayed in the NICU for eight days.  Each day was harder than any part of pregnancy or delivery, but we were so lucky and blessed that he was a strong, healthy baby that we got to take home in such a short time.  I am in awe of families who endure extended stays in the NICU and the doctors and nurses that provide their care.  

Many diapers, bottles and sleepless nights later; we decided to try for #2.  Again, my impatient nature reared its ugly head, and I pleaded with God to bless us with a second child this month.  And again, He answered my prayer in just a few short months.  Thirty-five weeks later and I’m back at the hospital in pre-term labor – which fortunately slowed down after a few hours.  Thankfully, I got to complete my second round of bed rest at home.  But, the chaos of a two-year-old with a momma who couldn’t run and play with him caused my impatience to get the best of me on many days during these two weeks of bed rest.  Until finally, I remember what I had learned two short years ago.  These are His plans, not mine.  His ways are higher than my ways.  Ok God, I remember, I’m waiting.

At 39 weeks our precious baby girl, Reese, was born, and we got to take her straight home from the hospital with us.  No NICU, no IVS, no NeoNatal doctors – it was amazing.  

So here we are, trying to survive and enjoy the chaos of our wild 3 ½ year old boy (who is ALL boy) and his sweet, laid back 11-month-old little sister.  Most days, I let daily living get the best of me.  I forget these stories and how God taught me so much through both of their arrivals.  Then, there are moments when I see their perfect little faces and remember how amazing His grace is, and I try to soak it all in.  I won’t deny that I still let my impatience get the best of me far too often; it is still a daily struggle.  But, I’ve learned through these awesome experiences and a whole lot of prayer that this life is not about me, it’s about Him - my weakness made perfect in His power.

[email protected] (Deidre Ruth Photography) family love your story my story Mon, 09 Sep 2013 16:06:14 GMT
My Story: Jada, Part two  

There’s always that perpetual argument over who works harder. The women who juggle car lines and cleaning and naps and laundry and spit-up and diapers and tantrums? Or the women who juggle car lines and cleaning and naps and laundry and spit-up and diapers and tantrums, plus that pesky job outside the home? 


The latter has been me for seven years. Our lives have been an endless cycle. 


Monday: Up by 5:30 AM, scramble for an hour, get the kids up, try to make them eat before they run out of time, brush teeth, get dressed, brush hair, argue about tangles in said hair, find lost shoes, repeat myself, repeatedly, grab bags, scramble to the car, go back for whatever was forgotten, drive like a maniac, drop off the kids (sometimes in two different places), continue to drive like a maniac, work, lunch, work, drive like a maniac, pick up kids, get home, make dinner, eat, clean up kitchen, homework, kids argue over who is taking a bath first, referee, bathe kids, get dressed, comb wet hair, argue about tangles in said hair, brush teeth, put the kids to bed, they get up, put them to bed, they get up, put them to bed.... 


Finally, by 9:00 PM the house is quiet. Time to sit down? If I sit, I will fall asleep. The kind of sleep where you have conversations and make important life decisions and have no memory of them the next day. No sitting. Not only does sitting make me sleepy, it makes me ridiculously lazy. Seriously lazy.


Does everybody have clean underwear? What am I wearing to work? What are the girls wearing to school/daycare? Do we need to make formula? Do we need to make lunches? Did you sign that form? Where is her backpack? Where is the kitchen counter? Pretty sure it is somewhere under that mountain of clutter.


Finally, by 11:00 PM the house is dark and quiet. Crash. Reset. Start again in 6-7 hours. 


It is absolutely exhausting, and, to be honest, not as rewarding on some days as it should be. There aren’t enough hours in the day. If there were more hours, there still wouldn’t be enough. 


Like a lot of mothers, during my 12 weeks of maternity leave after Rachel was born in 2006, I insisted that I wasn’t returning to my job. It wasn’t what I wanted; it wasn’t right. 



For probably the first time ever, Travis and I created a budget and tried our best to make it work, but to no avail. So, I put on my big girl business suit and back to the bank I went. 


Three years passed, and then Leah was born in 2010. Travis and I had a four-year-old and a new baby. Again, I insisted that I wasn’t going back. Not what I wanted. We did the math. It didn’t work. We did the math. Just not happening.



I read a blog some time ago that really slapped me around a little. I don’t remember the author or the title. All I remember was that somewhere in the middle, it read “don’t become your distractions.” I realized that was happening to me. I was so caught up in the daily scramble that I was missing the important stuff, the “Mommy, watch this” and “Mommy, guess what?” and “Mommy, can you [insert what’s important to a three-year-old]” and even the silly arguments. It was all being pushed to the back burner by my distractions. Granted, some were valid distractions, like working to pay for food and shelter. But others? Absolutely not.


Our third daughter, Audrey, was born last October. It’s pretty safe to say that my contributions at the bank weren’t saving any lives. I didn’t belong there. I felt like I was being led to stay home, but not for my own selfish reasons this time. 



I realized what had happened. In 2006, it was about me. In 2010, I selfishly made it about me. In 2013, I made it about Him, my obedience, and my responsibility as a mother, essentially giving myself. 


If you read my other post here, you’ll know that God taught my husband and me that He is in control, and all things come in His time, on His schedule. I learned to just let it go and decided that if I was supposed to stay home, it would work. If not, then there had to be some important, yet unknown, reason I was still at my job. 


We did the math again. And again. And again. One day a few months ago, it worked. Just like that. 


Now that I look back, my priorities shifted from trying to do and have it all to simply wanting to raise our girls to be the light of Christ and for me to lead by example. How could they learn from me if they were being taught by other people? I thought I was the one waiting, when all along, He was waiting on me. He faithfully waited six years for me to hand it over to Him. Six years.


If you know me, you know that I am most definitely not room mother material. I’m not a little kid magnet. Pretending to be excited over random arts and crafts and bad knock knock jokes is harder than it should be. My kids? I can handle. Others? Not so much. I’m not very creative or crafty, though I do love a hot glue gun. I want my girls to grow up understanding that it’s okay to not wear make up every day or have a brand new car or 300 satellite channels, that everything is not a competition.


Quitting my job is by far the single scariest thing I’ve ever done. I’m already exhausted thinking about it. But, it will be a much more rewarding kind of exhausted. With God’s grace, I can be patient, enthusiastic, selfless, understanding, organized, for starters, and hopefully, helpful to moms who haven’t made this leap yet.


Not every family can afford the luxury of being able to survive on one income. In fact, we haven’t even seen proof we can do it just yet. This has to be our biggest leap of faith ever. We have faith that it will work and that God will provide. And, with His guidance, I’m confident that I can do this. 



“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 (NIV)

I have an incredible amount of respect for working mothers. For some, for me, the guilt and the exhaustion weigh heavily on the heart and body. Unless you’ve tried to do it all, it is hard to understand. But, as the end of the month is creeping closer, I’m beginning to realize that nothing I’ve done at work over the past 15 years compares to this little endeavor. 


With lots of prayer, we’ll still be able to eat, and I won’t be loony by Labor Day. So, say a prayer for my sanity and potty-training capabilities and Travis’ stomach (since I’ll have to cook occasionally). Next week, I’m trading in my laptop and pencil skirts for a diaper bag and spit up covered yoga pants.



[email protected] (Deidre Ruth Photography) family love your story my story Fri, 26 Jul 2013 19:13:23 GMT
My Story: Kristy  

You know that moment in your life when everything seems to go smoothly, and you breathe for a minute, laugh easy and carefree, and just start going through the motions of each day?  Yeah, me too.  Then you probably also know that there is a chance that the rug is about to be pulled right out from under you, and you will be left breathless and confused.  Not a good place to be in.  Not too long ago, we were there.

Let me begin by giving you a brief background on myself and my precious family. My life has pretty much followed the course of what I planned and expected.  After growing up in a tight-knit, Christian family, I graduated from high school, went to college to become a teacher, and moved to Gardendale to teach high school English.  After one year of teaching, I met my best friend and soul mate, we got engaged a year after we met, and we were married a year after that.  A year later, I was pregnant with Jack-- our sweet, wild, happy boy, and life was good. Then God started moving in our lives.

Both my husband (John Berry) and I had become Christians at a young age, and we knew that we wanted God to be the center of our lives, but we just weren't really doing that.  We were just living.  Working, spending time together, raising our son... nothing out of the ordinary.  Then came November of 2011.  Over the course of a few weeks, I could feel God reaching out for me and calling me to change.  I didn't really talk to John Berry a whole lot about this at the time because I wasn't even sure what I was feeling or hearing from God.  Over the course of the few months before that November, I had taken up a hobby of painting old wooden board signs.  It started as something fun and suddenly became something that people actually wanted to buy from me.  I was shocked and excited, but I had no idea what God was preparing me for.  At this particular time, I was in the middle of my 7th year of teaching, and I loved my job.  When I finally stopped and prayed and took the time to ask God what He was telling me, everything was clear.  He was telling me to quit my job that I loved, stay home with Jack and be an example of Christ for him, and to use the talent of painting the signs that God had given me to put His words in people's homes.  I remember reading Deuteronomy 6: 6-9 ("These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts... Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates."), and I knew that God was speaking to me.  Sharing this life-altering calling with my husband was  a little daunting.  He listened patiently and didn't necessarily feel that this was the perfect decision for our family at that time; I just asked God to make this as clear to him as He did to me.  And the next day when John Berry came home from work, he told me that while driving home, he couldn't explain it, but he knew that God was telling him that these changes in our lives were part of his plan for our lives.  So I informed my boss that this would be my last year teaching until God told us otherwise, and we stepped out in faith.  We knew this would be a challenge, but we were excited.  And just a few months later, we found out we were pregnant with our second child.  God had blessed us, and we were filled with joy and no worries. We were following God closely, but we also had absolutely no idea what was before us.

In May of 2012, I had my first doctor's appointment.  I was 10 weeks pregnant, and the pregnancy had been easy.  I didn't have any morning sickness; I felt great.  No worries, right?  Life was good.  We walked into the ultrasound room, laughing and talking to the ultrasound tech.  I hopped up on the table and started talking about how I couldn't believe my 1st trimester was already almost over.  Still laughing.  Still carefree.  Meanwhile, the ultrasound tech was quietly clicking away.  After that is a blur.  She told us to go to the doctor's office.  I looked at John Berry, and he told me not to worry unless we had to.  We sat down in the doctor's office, and the doctor walked in and said, "It doesn't look good guys..."  I was shocked.  Our baby had no heartbeat.  I nodded and agreed with whatever she was saying, and I just asked that we have some time to talk about what was happening.  John Berry and I decided that we would pray for the next 24 hours that if our child would be a strong, servant of God, who would live a long, healthy life, he or she would have a heartbeat the next day.  We know that our God is a God of miracles, but we also have never wanted to play God.  We knew at that moment that we just had to trust that whatever happened, it was happening for a reason, and we would praise God through it all.  The next day, after 24 hours of prayer, we went back to the doctor, and our baby still had no heartbeat.  We had our answer.  The rug had been pulled out from under us, but we were moving forward with God's help.  We knew he was carrying us in His right hand, and we were clinging to that.

And then, 2 months later, I was pregnant again.  We were thrilled.  And this time the doctor wanted to see me much earlier.  I went in at 6 weeks, and the ultrasound tech told me not to expect a heartbeat because it was still early.  This time, we didn't have to go to the doctor's office after the ultrasound, so that was a relief.  But that relief only lasted for a moment.  The doctor walked in and told us that things once again didn't look right, and she wanted to check my levels.  So we did the blood work, and I went back for follow-up blood work 2 days later, and she called us the next day.  The news was not good.  My levels had dropped so low that basically this was considered a "dissolved pregnancy."  I was at a loss after that phone call.  I felt angry, sad, confused.  Why was this happening?  I asked God why He was even allowing me to get pregnant if I was going to keep miscarrying.  I cried out to Him.  I shut out John Berry.  I was consumed with worry that I would never be able to carry a healthy baby again.  But God let me crawl in His lap and bang on His chest.  In the midst of my fears, I could feel Him holding me close. He reminded me that He is sovereign, faithful in His promises, and that I was being called to completely trust Him.  So that's what we did.  We just trusted and tried to dig into scripture as much as we could.  We could feel His love for us.

In October of 2012, we found out we were pregnant again.  John Berry was strong from day one; me, not so much.  I was worried.  I dreaded ultrasounds.  I would shake with fear while driving to the doctor's appointments.  And it was amazing how God was so clearly speaking to me at that time.  Everywhere I looked, I was met with Philippians 4:6.  God was constantly reminding me to trust Him and His perfect plan.  After we made it through the 1st trimester without any problems, I started to breathe again.  And then the enemy started attacking me in other ways.  I would become worried that something would be wrong with our baby, and God would remind me that this baby is fearfully and wonderfully made.  He met all of my fears with His promises.  And a few days before we were going to find out if this baby was a boy or girl, I remember I was driving in my car and I was begging God to please protect our baby, and God basically told me to calm down and trust Him (I clearly needed constant reminders of this), and that this baby was part of His will for our lives.  I knew at that moment that I was having another boy.  John Berry and I had discussed names for this baby, and we had decided on Will if it was a boy.  God's Will.


At this particular moment, I am 39 weeks pregnant with a very active, healthy baby boy, and we are expecting to meet him any day.  I look back on the past year, and this is what I know:  God brought us close to Him to solidify our faith and prepare us for the most difficult challenge of our lives so far.  And I also know that what the enemy meant for harm, God has used for His good. Miscarriages are just scary statistics until you become one of them.  And then you are part of some sad sorority that nobody really wants to be a part of.  But there are so many of us, and through relationships with friends who have experienced losses like mine, God has been glorified.  And like I said before, the greatest lesson of all comes back to God's sovereignty.  He is perfect.  His plan is perfect.  And He is faithful in His promises.  Don't let the enemy convince you of anything else.  Is life always easy? Of course not.  But if the rug gets pulled out from under you, remember that God is there ready to catch you and carry you in His righteous right hand.


****Since writing her story, Kristy and her husband John Berry and their oldest Jack have welcomed perfect, sweet baby Will into their family!!! Here he is...

_MG_1029 _MG_1033 _MG_1088

[email protected] (Deidre Ruth Photography) family love your story maternity my story newborn Tue, 09 Jul 2013 15:21:52 GMT
The Harden Family   




























[email protected] (Deidre Ruth Photography) family love your story newborn Mon, 17 Jun 2013 15:15:47 GMT
My Story: Krystal

Married for one year and it was in our timeline to begin growing our family. Married, beautiful house, dog, white picket fence (not really), and so why not? It was time. But, little did we know what was ahead.

After several months and a lot of health complications for me, the doctor’s office became normalcy in our lives for a few years. Two or three visits every week... all the same outcome. Shots, pills, procedures, and not enough answers left us both with broken hearts and the unknown of what was to come. There were many nights cried to sleep. Would we ever become parents? Why us? Will our marriage be the same if we can’t have a family? Will we be lonely when we are old and gray? Is it something we have done to deserve this punishment?

And, at times that is exactly what it felt like... punishment... torture... pure agony. When all our friends were pregnant or already had families and expecting their second child, we could not understand what was going on. Even a simple trip to Walmart could be so tough when you saw a complete stranger pushing a baby in their cart. Satan was at work. He tried every angle and any situation to tear us down, destruct our faith, and sometimes each other.

But, let me back up and rewind to tell you about before Nathan and I ever wanted children. I always in my heart felt like God had called me to adopt. This was before I knew about my infertility. The Holy Spirit had planted a passion in me long ago. I always thought one day I would marry a missionary, and we would travel together in another country for long periods of time. I knew God had called me on a mission... something big... but never expected it His way.

If you are unaware and do not know, I married a handsome plumber instead. Yes, I’m not sure how I’m supposed to get across the oceans and around the world with a plumber. Nathan always turned down the idea of adoption when I mentioned it. He liked the idea and agreed with why we should adopt, but thought it wasn’t for us. He wanted to have “his own.”

We had been in God’s word seeking Him and what He wanted from us during this time. Nathan and I hit our knees daily in any room in our home begging for God’s peace and direction. This “valley” became our best time together. It drew us together as we recklessly abandoned ourselves to His will. Our hearts were soft, and God was ever so present. Even in the most difficult time there was a peace I can never describe. Even in the midst of the pain that would literally become physical because it hurt so bad... there was peace. Even when we returned to the doctor to find out we couldn’t do IVF because it was too unsafe for me... there was peace. And, my very last visit when the doctor sat me down in her office and looked me in the eye to say "this is the end of the road”... there was peace.

God used this time to help us find something we only thought we had. Focus. True surrender. He gave us Proverbs 19:21 and then he gave us James 1:27... ”to take care of the orphans....” So we did. We welcomed two little boys in our home.

And, guess what? My plumber became the missionary I imagined marrying. God knew he was all along. He was a servant surrendering to God’s calling. Isn’t that what a true missionary is? And, now God had developed our home into a mission field. Our desire was to be the picture of Jesus... to do things the world thought was hard and sacrifice for what He called us to live for instead. It was not about what we wanted anymore. God had changed both of our hearts. And, Nathan wanted to adopt as we learned this was God’s story for us, His children. We were adopted, right? This IS THE GOSPEL!

After seven months of loving and trying to bring healing and Jesus into these boys’ lives, they returned home. But, they returned home new. They both received Jesus in their hearts before leaving.

Seven days later... we had been chosen. A seventeen-year-old girl carrying a little boy had chosen us to become parents to the child she was due to have shortly. During our foster care journey, we began the adoption process as well. Little did we truly know how perfect God’s timing is. Our son would be born only 40 days later.

We welcomed our son, Walker Samuel Dye, into the world on June 7, 2012. His birth mom was an angel. She let us have him as soon as he was born. We were first to hold him. There’s never been a second that he was not 110% ours. He was perfect.

Adoption and foster care is God’s mission for our family. Maybe not living in Africa, but bringing the mission field in our front yard. People ask us why we did not adopt from China or somewhere else and we don’t know. There’s a mission field down our street and around the corner. You don’t always have to cross a big ocean to become a disciple. Sometimes all you need to do is simply open up your front door.

I like to run. No, I love to run. Running is hard sometimes, tiring and challenging. But, running is also rewarding. We ran. It was hard, long, and it hurt sometimes. But, at the end, the finish line was worth it all. I’d like to say we are definitely not done running. Maybe that was just a 10k and we have a few half marathons ahead or a full 26.2 miles. I cannot wait.

“... let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus....” (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Oh, by the way... When Walker turned seven-months-old, God wasn’t finished. I am now carrying a baby girl, due September 15, 2013. She and I are as healthy as can be! TO GOD BE THE GLORY...

Stay tuned for our next race! 



[email protected] (Deidre Ruth Photography) adoption family love your story my story Mon, 03 Jun 2013 15:11:57 GMT
My Story: Shelby This very special Mother's Day edition of "My Story" is written by a client who has, over the years, become very dear to me.  I love sharing in Collins' milestones at each session and watching her grow.  I also love seeing the bond between Shelby and Collins- so sweet- and how strong of a mother Shelby is.  Here's her story:


When I was a little girl and someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always told them I wanted to be a mommy. That was always my answer.

I think that when we are little we have this ideal picture in our head of how our lives will turn out. The older we get, the more that picture begins to change, whether it be because of our circumstances or simply because we change our minds about what we want to see happen in our lives. And you know what? For some people that picture may not change at all. Things in the universe line up exactly the way they should and those people’s lives end up following the same picture they had planned since they were kids. Mine didn’t turn out like I planned, but it turned out better.

It was all super simple, really. I would go to college, meet my future husband, be stupid in love, graduate college, get married very soon after that, have a fabulous job, a beautiful house and then some major cute kids. I mean, what else is there?

Some of that happened. I went to college for a little while. I met a couple of guys I thought could be my husband. I got burned out. I came home from college. To my parent’s house. I promise this story gets better. I went to cosmetology school and started doing hair, and I loved it. I met a wonderful, handsome guy, and we got engaged. Finally, my life was starting to look somewhat similar to that plan I’d had in my head all those years. Until I decided I didn’t want to be engaged anymore. Turns out my Mr. Wonderful wasn’t as wonderful as I thought, and he wasn’t ready for the responsibility of something as sacred as marriage. Here’s the kicker. Are you ready? The very same week I told my family that there would be no wedding-I found out I was pregnant. The very same week.

When you look up the word “devastated” in the dictionary it tells you that its synonyms are “destroy, sack, ruin”. Those words pretty much sum up how I felt. Now, let’s get something straight. I was not devastated that I was having a baby. I was not devastated that my entire world was about to be flipped upside-down. I was devastated because I knew, in my heart of hearts, that this was not the order in which my life was supposed to go. Hello, I had a plan, remember? I was devastated because I knew that the responsibility of this baby would rest squarely on my 25 year old, single, scrawny little shoulders. Mr. Wonderful assured me he’d be involved. Of course he would help raise his child! But I knew better. Me and the nugget in my belly were on our own.

Now let’s look up the word “support” in the dictionary, shall we? You will find, “to hold up or serve as a foundation”, “to keep from fainting, yielding, or losing courage”. This describes my wonderful, giving, (sometimes crazy) but very loving family. They were behind me (and my growing belly) and loved me when I felt scared and kind of unlovable. I was so fearful of disappointing them. Who wants “that” daughter? The one who gets pregnant and isn’t married. Most importantly, I can’t leave this part out: How disappointed was God in me? Why would He want “that” daughter?

A few months into my pregnancy, after my guilt subsided, I realized how much God must love me to entrust such a wonderful, miraculous blessing. He was giving me one of His children to CARE for. I heard one time that children were God’s way of letting us know He hasn’t given up on us just yet. WOW. I was reminded of this often during my pregnancy when I found myself discouraged or sad. When I cried by myself because I wanted my baby to have a mommy and a daddy. Or when I went to doctor’s appointments alone. God spoke to me in those moments and I promise so many times I felt Him say to me, “Hey, we got this”.

Then, there she was. That baby I was so afraid of raising on my own. That heartburn-causing, middle of the night hiccuping, squirming baby. Seven pounds and eleven ounces of sheer beauty and every single hope and dream I ever had laying on my chest. I was hers and she was mine. You want to talk about purpose and will? I was often told by my own mother that her love for me was indescribable and that I would never know such love until I had a child of my own. Why are moms always right? Collins came and I finally saw the big, huge, open picture. I didn’t need the degree and husband and house (in that order) and then the babies. God had something much greater in store for me. If all those other things had come first then Collins wouldn’t be Collins and I essentially wouldn’t be me.

Has it been easy? No. Have I had pity party days? Of course. But I’ve had more good days and happiness than I ever thought possible. And I have felt more grace and more mercy in the last two years than some people feel in a lifetime. God has brought people into our lives right when we’ve needed them.

I told you this story got better: I got to be what I always wanted to be when I grew up. A mommy. 

I carry your heart with me. I carry it in my heart. -E.E. Cummings


[email protected] (Deidre Ruth Photography) family love your story my story Fri, 10 May 2013 15:38:59 GMT
My Story: Amy


Zach was born on May 11, 2010. Soon after his birth, it was apparent that something was very wrong with him. He was unable to keep his ammonia levels down. After being admitted to the NICU at Children’s, it was discovered through genetic testing that Zach was missing an arm of a chromosome. This meant he was missing a very important part of the cycle needed to break down protein, that he would have retinitis pigmentosa (degenerative disease of the retina leading to blindness) and have x-linked mental retardation. The only way to truly fix the ammonia issue was through liver transplantation since high ammonia is not compatible with life.

In order to receive an organ transplant you must be able to provide a stable environment for the child, and at the time his biological mother was unable to do this. DHR became involved, and Zach was placed in foster care. Around the same time as Zach’s birth, John and I began heavily feeling the call towards orphan care. We were unsure if it meant international adoption, foster care, or maybe even domestic adoption. We started praying that God would show us exactly the path he had in store for us.

A few months went by, and Zach was stable enough to be moved out of the NICU and into Special Care. I still remember the first time I ever took care of him. He was so grumpy because his ammonia levels were so high. I really didn’t feel any connection at all to him. I was merely completing my nursing task of taking care of my patient. Well...I kept being assigned to take care of him, and my heart just starting connecting with his. I started going at night to rock and bathe him. The bond started growing stronger and stronger. One day one of his genetic doctors jokingly said to me, “Want to take him home so he can get a transplant?” She had NO idea the seed she had just planted. You see, John and I had decided that God was indeed calling us into foster care. We had started the classes in August 2010 along with four other couples. Honestly, our plans were to foster one healthy, younger child.

Our lives would stay the same, and we would be obeying God’s calling for our lives. We were in for a rude awakening!! I came home from work one day, and casually asked John what he thought about praying to take Zach home. He agreed, and I got in touch with several social workers to let them know we were considering doing this.

We were told that it wasn’t going to happen. We moved on. I still remember so clearly getting ready for work one morning, and God just telling me to pray for Zach. I got down on my knees in my bathroom and wept for him. I asked God to please direct his life, and if it meant us being his caregivers, to make it happen. Honestly, I was a little on the demanding side!

Exactly one week later, a social worker at Children’s came up to me right as I was getting off work, and told me DHR had called...AND they wanted US to foster Zach. I am really not sure what my reaction was. It is a blur. John was in Haiti on a mission trip, and I had to tell him over a breaking up cell phone call. I’m sure he was in quite a state of shock! He got home, and we started the process with the transplant team of being able to list him for his liver.

On October 20, 2010, I was rocking Zach to sleep, and the transplant coordinator left a message on my phone to call her. I called back, and she didn’t answer. I called John, and we decided there was no way it was about a liver being available. Well, next thing I know she is standing at his bedside and tells me to get ready because there is a possibility that he will be transplanted. I ran home, got bags packed, and arranged care for Sallie and Luke. Our friends and family will never understand what their support through this meant to us.

John and I headed up to UAB, where we were in a private room with Zach for the night. The entire thing was just insane at the time. The next morning he was taken back to the OR. We sat in the waiting room for 10 hours with his biological mom and a DHR social worker.

This is a day that will forever be etched in my memory. The transplant was a success. Three weeks after transplant and several complications later, we were able to take Zach home just in time for Thanksgiving. We began adjusting our lives to a family of five. Zach was precious, and our family was so in love with him

It has now been over two years since we brought Zach home. He has had such a difficult path post-transplant. Nothing has really gone his way, and at times I have been so angry with this. However, I know God makes NO mistakes, and every hurdle and obstacle he has faced is preparing him for much bigger things in life.

We were able to legally adopt Zach on May 23, 2012. This is one of the happiest days of our lives. Zach would now have a forever family! We also found out this week that... SURPRISE... I was pregnant! Nothing about this journey has been easy for us, but why would we ever expect it to be? Satan fights what he doesn't like with all he has. We know who wins though! We have gone through some dark times, but through prayer and faith in God, we have been able to push ahead.

Currently, Zach is very stable from a transplant perspective. His liver is working great, and he is just full of life. He is very involved in Early Intervention, and the progress he is making is truly amazing. He is a walking, talking miracle.

Without the selfless decision of another family to donate their loved one’s organs, Zach would not be alive. This past month we were able to meet this family, and spend a day with them.

Zach’s donor was a 22-year-old boy named Josh. Josh was also a special needs child. He was born with spina bifida and faced many obstacles in his own life. His family was so precious to us. This is an exert from a letter that his sister, Brianna wrote to us.

He was handicapped but that never stopped him from doing anything in this world. I like to believe God put him on this earth to make people realize that just because something is wrong with someone doesn’t mean that they can’t do anything in this world. JOSH DID. He made people realize what faith and love is supposed to be. After he was done with his purpose in this world, God wanted Josh to be with him. I do believe that.

This is an exert from a letter from his Aunt, who raised him after the death of his mother and grandmother.

Josh also had a great love for God and wanted to share that love with everyone he met. Josh always made us laugh and reminded us constantly that LIFE WAS FOR LIVING! You see, Josh was born with many physical challenged but he never let them slow him down.

It is no mistake that Zach and Josh had so much in common. God was able to shine in Josh’s life as he overcame obstacle after obstacle. God is now doing the same in Zach’s life. He just keeps carrying him through each trial that he faces. He is defying odds, and that is only because of God’s power. This week our little miracle turns three. I couldn’t be prouder of him, and I just look at him in awe for getting up every day and pushing himself as hard as he can.

May is also national foster care month. Without saying, “yes” to fostering, our lives would look so very different. I can’t, nor want, to even imagine it!

We have also had the privilege of caring for another medically fragile child, precious twin girls and currently a rock star three-year-old girl. I pray that our story brings glory to our heavenly Father, and that if anyone is feeling led at all towards foster care that they would earnestly seek God’s direction in their life. It is truly a picture of the Gospel, and what our Heavenly Father has done for us. REDEMPTION! 




[email protected] (Deidre Ruth Photography) family love your story my story Tue, 07 May 2013 16:01:17 GMT
My Story: Josh _MG_8633

Our adoption story began, unbeknownst to us, in November of 2009.  It was “Orphan Sunday” at Gardendale First Baptist Church.  My wife, Kim, and I were walking to our Sunday school class making small talk about all of the organizations that had their massive displays set up.  We had been talking about sponsoring a child overseas, but had never done it.  What better day to start than Orphan Sunday, right?  We then started to look at which organization we should choose.  There was World Vision, Compassion International, and several others, but we noticed a small table with some pictures of babies and information about that particular orphanage.  We walked over and were introduced to Sonrise Baby Home in Jinja, Uganda, and in that moment our lives would be changed forever.
We talked with the ladies working the table about sponsorships and decided because it was a small organization and every bit of our donation went overseas (instead of to overhead and admin costs), we would sponsor from there.  After church, we went and got our three daughters and let them pick which child they wanted to sponsor.  The unanimously chose a beautiful baby boy name Steven.  We were given a photo printout of Steven and some information about this incredible little guy.  When we got home, our daughters started writing Steven "letters”.  The first one (and it still hangs on our refrigerator today) said “Dear God, we love Steven”. 
My wife continued to stay in contact with the young woman who helped Sonrise raise funds stateside and in July of 2010, she was given the opportunity to travel to Uganda to serve at Sonrise for a week.  This week literally changed her life.  In only a way that He can, God burdened her heart for the babies of Uganda and particularly Sonrise.  She came back a mess.  For a couple of weeks, she wasn’t the same.  She would cry herself to sleep at night thinking about these beautiful kids who didn’t have a momma or daddy to kiss them goodnight.  The workers at Sonrise cared for these children immensely but it still wasn’t mom and dad. 
One night the question came as we were getting ready to go to bed:  “Josh, would you consider praying about adoption?”  To be honest, I had never really considered adoption.  In my mind (don’t judge me), adoption was a good thing, but it was for people that couldn’t have children.  We had three beautiful daughters, why would we need to adopt?  But to humor her, I agreed, never really thinking it would lead to much.  But I love my wife.  If I tell her I’m going to do something, I will do it to the best of my ability.  So I began to pray earnestly.  And in what God can only get credit for, within weeks my heart began to change.  In addition to praying, I got into God’s Word and began to see how HE viewed adoption and caring for the fatherless.  I began to see orphan care and adoption as a running theme through scripture......but why?  Why was God so passionate about the orphan in particular?  Then He showed me why:   THE GOSPEL IS A GIGANTIC ADOPTION STORY!  Just as a child who has no family and no one to fend for them is hopeless and desperate and as good as dead, so are we as fallen human beings!  Apart from Christ, we are hopeless and spiritually dead.  But through his work on the cross, we are adopted as sons and daughters (Romans 8:15-17).  Adoption is not about giving a child a better life and forever parents (although that is certainly a bi-product).  Adoption is about painting a picture of the Gospel and in turn, glorifying God!
When that truth was made clear to me, God completely changed my heart and we were both 100% committed to pursuing international adoption.  Also, with much prayer it became evident that we were to adopt in Uganda.  People ask “Why Uganda when there are plenty of children in the United States that need good homes?”  That’s a totally legitimate question.  Our answer is: we have no idea, but God made it abundantly clear in various ways that He was calling us to Uganda, and we weren’t going to argue.
So we pursued it with everything we had.  International adoption is expensive so we put our house up for sale and were going to downsize and every penny saved would go into the adoption fund.  I honestly thought it would be a few years before we were able to.  Again, God had other plans.  One Sunday after church, a family walked up to my wife and with no strings attached literally handed her an envelope containing two checks for every penny needed for the adoption!!!!  God had funded it all!
The following week we called Lifeline Children’s Services to get the ball rolling and went full steam ahead.  We were adopting through Sonrise Baby Home, and to save many details, God opened door after door, and we received our referral.  Remember that baby boy that we sponsored on Orphan Sunday in 2009???  That baby was going to be my son! 
We continued on through the tedious task that is international adoption and in January 2011, we began to discuss and pray about the possibility of adopting a second son.  Very quickly God gave us our answer, and now we were going to be a family of 7!!!! 
We finally received a court date and travelled to Uganda in June of 2011.  On July 13th we were granted legal guardianship of these two beautiful Ugandan boys.  They returned to the United States with my wife and to a very eager forever family on July 27th, and on November 2nd, we finalized in a court of law what God had ordained from the beginning of eternity. 
That’s our adoption story in a not so brief nutshell (all SOOO many miracles were not mentioned here)!  Over the last few years we have seen God move in ways we never could have imagined.  We have seen Him prove Himself faithful over and over again.  We hope that a dark world has seen and will continue to see the light of the Gospel through our family and through the picture of adoption.  And above all we pray that God be glorified through all of this!
John 11:25-26
from Deidre:  this story isn't finished!  The Moodys (all seven of them) are traveling to Uganda on May 15th.  Get updates here.
from Deidre: Kim brought a chalkboard along with her to our session.  We asked each girl to use one word to describe her family.  Then Kim chose the word for the boys. Here are the responses...
from Deidre: at the very end, the twins wanted to write one last statement on the chalkboard.  It is one of my favs from the session.  Please pray for this family as they travel to Uganda in two weeks.
[email protected] (Deidre Ruth Photography) family love your story my story Thu, 02 May 2013 14:17:42 GMT
The Brooks Family I had a fun day on this family's farm during our shoot.  Jennifer is a trunk keeper for Matilda Jane Clothing (if you want to host a show in your home, contact her here)- I love the Matilda Jane brand, and Jennifer and her little girl Addie did not disappoint with their cute outfits.  We rode horses, we explored in the ATV, and Audra even crossed her fingers that I would slip and fall into the creek.  Ha!

Hope you enjoy this sweet family as much as I did!  xoxo

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[email protected] (Deidre Ruth Photography) family love your story Mon, 29 Apr 2013 16:07:56 GMT
My Story: Jada The only real bet I’ve ever made was over $5 and with one of my oldest friends when we were about 16. She said I’d have two kids by our 10-year class reunion. And, I said I’d never have any. Well.

Our reunion rolled around, and we both showed up. Me, with my “I told you so” and her, with President Lincoln. Impressive.

Turns out, we were both wrong. God had a different plan.

I met the hubs at work 15 years ago. We started dating several years later and were married a couple of years after that. We had our first daughter the next year. I’m sure we had a few people counting the months, marriage to birth! Anyway, most decisions came easy for us and still do. We’re very pragmatic people. We plan everything.

Like a lot of couples, we decided that three years apart would be perfect for our two children, so when #1 turned two, we started trying. Months passed and nothing. We went to a fertility doctor. Nothing. Literally. He found nothing wrong.

This was the first time that we hadn’t been able to meet a deadline, which I realize is an odd way to look at it. But, we were on a schedule!

#2 was born 25 months after we started trying. That’s over two years for our mathematically- challenged readers. 25 months. Evidently, three years apart isn’t perfect for every family. So, #1 was four-years-old, and we had our #2. Done.

Wrong again.

At 35, I started thinking, doing the math in my head. Counting the years. 35, plus a couple of years, add a year and a half for trying, hubs will be.... One more?? Are we supposed to have another baby? Adopt? So confused. Oh boy. So, we prayed. If we were supposed to have another baby, it would happen, and it would be soon so that the hubs and I wouldn’t be collecting dust with the tennis balls on our walkers at high school graduation, right?

Right. And, get ready.... Pregnant three weeks later. That pregnancy was the hardest ten months of my life, but I know He has a plan for #3. I can’t imagine our lives without her. Our experience with #2 taught us to listen. It wasn’t just my “advanced maternal age” telling me that two wasn’t enough. That was God telling us that He wasn’t finished.

It’s funny how, as you age, your perspective changes. I would go as far as to say that it improves. With every passing year, you care a little less about what other people think and more about what God has planned for your life.

Jeremiah 29:11 is easily recognized.... “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV)

When I see it, I’m always reminded of #2, who took so long to get here with absolutely no medical explanation, and #3, who came even faster than #1. He has a plan for their lives. It scares me a little, but I trust Him. We can’t wait to see what they do for His kingdom. We pray that He shines through them.


This is our life. All by His design. The teaser with her “crazy eyes” and the pleaser with her compliant smile. And, poor #3 is just along for the ride for now. Quite literally, as she seems to be bodysurfing here.

Some days pass in a blur. I know that we don’t do it alone though. Our God gives us strength and endurance, keeps us grounded, and reminds us that it isn’t all about us. We have to lean on Him for guidance, support, and for so many other things. Even if it isn’t what we think is best. He knows better. We’ve learned to just listen carefully.

[email protected] (Deidre Ruth Photography) family love your story my story Tue, 23 Apr 2013 18:40:03 GMT
Brian + Heather: Maternity Sometimes it's difficult to pinpoint the exact moment when my clients stop being clients and turn into friends. It is a given- when I take such intimate portraits of people during incredibly emotion-filled times in their lives, their stories seep into my heart and I always fall in love.  Sometimes its over the course of baby's first year.... sometimes its during a planning session for a wedding....sometimes it happens in the their home while I'm helping them choose which images to put on their walls.  Once it was in the middle of a newborn session when mom and grandmom and I swapped stories of our late grandfathers and cried and laughed while the baby slept and waited patiently for us to finish our sob-fest and get back to the task.  But it always happens.  Its inevitable.  

With Brian and Heather, it was immediate.  It's like we had been friends for years- we laughed and walked and talked and told stories and then occasionally found time to squeeze in a few shots.  Here are some of my favs.  Enjoy.

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[email protected] (Deidre Ruth Photography) family love your story maternity Wed, 10 Apr 2013 20:50:58 GMT